For people who love their homes or spaces to have a certain aesthetic, products that are both functional and decorative are very much welcome. If you have a small space, you would of course not want to have all sorts of decorations clutter it up (well, unless you’re a maximalist) if they do not serve any other purpose other than just be pretty. So if you find something that beauties up your place and at the same time performs a useful function, then you got yourself a winner.
Designer: Hanyoung Lee, Eunji Ko
This concept for an air purifier is just one of those designs that are both functional and decorative. Abell’s main purpose is as a device to help purify the air inside your room or house. But instead of just standing there in the room, it is actually a lighting device. It will not take up space on your floor or on your table but it can be hung up wherever you want and it will give you cleaner air and also light up the room. And if you’re into the minimalist, monochromatic look, then it can also serve as an aesthetic addition to your room.
If it’s not hanging up there, it looks like your ordinary air purifier with a mushroom-like design. You probably can also use it as a table or shelf-top purifier although it’s unclear if it will light up as well. But if the bulb is under there as the product renders seem to indicate, then the lighting function may be useless if you don’t put it up there. Now when you use it as both a purifier and a lighting fixture, there is a controller attached to it so you can adjust how much light it emits.
It would be interesting to find out some more details about the air purifying aspect of the device. During the pandemic and even now when we’re getting back to whatever constitutes as normal, breathing fresh air even when indoors is an important part of our living. So the quality of air purifying that Abell can give is an important aspect of whether or not someone would buy it, if it becomes a product eventually.
Large ferris wheels seem to now be a landmark and tourist spot for a lot of large cities like London, Vienna, Budapest, Singapore, Dubai, etc. They provide a gorgeous view of the city to the people who fall in line (sometimes for hours) and also serve as part of the landscape for those viewing it from the ground. We will most likely see plans for more wheels to even more cities as it’s a pretty popular thing to do when visiting a place for the first time.
Designer: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Seoul has become one of the most popular cities to visit as Kpop, Kdramas and Korean food continue to conquer the world. The city government has now unveiled plans to add another thing for tourists and citizens to visit in what will possibly become the largest spokeless Ferris Wheel in the world. The Seoul Ring is set to start construction by 2025 and will be located in a former trash disposal site that is named after the sky or heaven. Haneul Park is now an ecological park when previously it was where a lot of the city’s garbage was dumped.
The ferris wheel will have a diameter of 591 feet and will have 36 glass carriages that can carry 25 occupants each. Aside from being visually stunning and give visitors a beautiful view of the city, it will also be environmentally friendly as it will be running on green energy. The “ring-without-spokes” design will use recycled energy, including solar power, adding to the eco-friendly theme of the park. They’re also planning to use augmented-reality to project things on the cubicles’ walls, like a virtual tourist guide while riding the wheel.
Haneul Park is actually close to North Korea so they also want it to become a symbol for their wish for a unified Korea. They’re expecting it to be able to carry up to 12,000 people every day when it will finally be completed by 2027 (hopefully). They local government will be investing around $411 million for this project as they look forward to having even more tourists visit the city. Hopefully, the Seoul Ring will become another draw to Seoul, among all the other things you can already do in the city.
If you live in a place where clean water is pretty much accessible, it’s probably something that you often take for granted. During times of crisis, it’s also one of the most overlooked needs but is pretty life-saving and life-changing. There are organizations that specifically help bring access to clean water to the families that have been displaced and affected by natural disasters and other calamities. The recent massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria has affected the lives of millions of people and we’re also seeing different technology and innovation that have come out to bring help to the countries and communities.
A Turkish company is helping those whose access to clean water are still disrupted because of the earthquake. They have sent this unique thing called inflatable concrete tanks that are able to hold 3,698 gallons of clean water. They are made up of a patented material called “concrete canvas” that can be flat-packed for transport and then inflated when it reaches its destination. We rarely see the words inflatable and concrete used together so this is a unique kind of material that will be really useful for times when you need to store clean water for a long time.
Concrete canvas is a layer of cement that is put in between fabric and a PVC liner. It is flattened and can be transported through air to its eventual destination. There is a concrete base slab that will hold the structure and you need to use an air-pump to inflate it. There is also a hydrating process that will cause it to harden and it will take around 24 hours to make it solid enough to hold water. Upon inflation and hardening, it will turn into an eight-foot water tank that is also fireproof and waterproof.
The tank is meant to be low-maintenance, easy to clean, and self-repairing. You don’t need to spend a lot of manhours and other materials when installing it and maintaining it for however long it is needed. It can be a good tool to have for communities that may need to have storage for clean water and it actually has a lifespan of 20 years so hopefully, it will not take that long to get clean water back to the place.
As someone who has worked in retail occasionally, I sometimes think about stuff that would make our staff’s life easier. There are times when we have to join various events and trade fairs but our products are not that easy to transport and set up. Sometimes all we have is a table and a small shelf so the display doesn’t look that great. It would be nice to have a mobile shop that we could bring with us whenever we need to have a mini bookstore with us. This mobile store by a Japanese design studio is something that we could have used.
SHOPKIT is a sort-of DIY furniture set that you can bring along with you as a mobile store or display booth. It is pretty easy to assemble and disassemble and is also pretty portable so you can bring it with you whenever you need something to display and sell your wares. The design is pretty minimalist and uses various materials like wood, steel, and polycarbonate so it will fit right in with wherever you’re setting up shop, whether it’s a park, an exhibition venue, at the mall, or any other urban spaces.
There are two types of SHOPKIT currently available. The single door type is made up of one box and is the easier one to assemble of course. If you want something bigger, there’s a double door type that is made up of two boxes that has work counters held in place with magnets and has a translucent facade so you can get a little bit of lighting as well. The module also has a place where you can hang a split shop curtain to protect you from the sun if you’re outdoors. It’s also something reminiscent of traditional Japanese shops so it fits with the aesthetic.
Originally, these units were just temporary structures as a building was being renovated. But they have now been repurposed as a piece of mobile architecture that is movable, portable, and easy to assemble and store. The model can be used by businesses and entrepreneurs that are in need of mobile shops and like the minimalist, Japanese design. It would be pretty useful for my past retail self who had to lug around tables, shelves, and books.
While I am very much a digital girl, there are still some things that I enjoy the analog versions of. That includes journaling and scrapbooking. I love printing out photos and adding them to my journals or putting them up on my cork boards. I’ve gone through my fair share of various photo printers but I’m always looking for something new that can make my notebooks prettier or more interesting. This concept for a printer seems to be unique and can add even more creativity to your journaling life.
Designer: Gabin Park and Subin Lee
Potto is a concept for a toy camera that prints different kind of photos. Unlike the polaroids and instax cameras and printers, this one doesn’t print your typical pictures but instead gives you an outline of the image that you took or that you sent to the camera. You get a line drawing that you can either keep as it is or color in the images if you want a more colorful or creative thing to add to your journal. It’s something that both kids and adults can appreciate as both may actually love the coloring part of the process.
The camera itself looks like your typical mobile photo printers with the round and soft shapes as well as pastel colors. The line photos are printed on a thermal paper rather than the polaroid or zinc paper. This means that the heat-sensitive paper is more affordable but will also eventually fade over time (apparently just like our memories). So if you want something that will last longer, then this is not the camera or photo printer for you.
The camera has a yellow button that lets you take the picture and then print them directly. There is also a display screen at the back so you can still see the images first before you take the photo. There is a cutting blade so you can easily cut the thermal paper, which are available in sizes 79 x 70 cm or 2 x 3 inches, depending on what you need. This is something that I would like to someday have so hopefully, this doesn’t remain just a concept.
When you travel to a place where you don’t speak the language, there are now tools and devices you can use to help you communicate with the locals who may also not speak your language. You can use your smartphone and various apps or services that can help you in the translation. For some people though, this may not be such a comfortable situation for them and can even be a barrier towards communicating with people. This concept for a device starts out with a “joke” but can become something actually useful.
Designer: Taewan Kim
This concept started out with the metaphor or pun “Let’s taco ’bout it” and it evolved into something that actually uses the idea of the taco, or at least the shape of it. The translation device is shaped like a taco and will be used by both the speaker and the listener. It’s actually like one of those two-way cup devices that you may have used when you were young (or at least those of a certain age) but now using digital technology. The basic idea is to make communicating more fun and functional.
The entire device really looks like a piece of taco but when it’s time to be used, you “cut” it into half and give the other part to the person you want to talk with. You press the button on your half of the device and speak into it and the other half of the device is the speaker where the translated voice comes out. It will also probably work the other way around so the person you’re talking to can also have their voices translated back to you.
The Taco device concept is pretty simple but if it works, it should be enough. It is an interesting way to talk to other people rather than just use Google Translate on your smartphone. There doesn’t seem to be any other function that the device can do but in terms of design, it is pretty cute and interesting.
For parents and guardians traveling in cars with babies and young kids, they would of course want the best and the safest baby car seats for their charges. While there are a lot of options in the market, apparently, safety regulations have not been updated since the year 2000. That doesn’t mean designers and manufacturers haven’t been keeping up to date with all the newest technology to make these car seats safer and now we will be getting what is probably the safest and most technologically advanced product in the market.
Designer: Frank Stephenson
You would probably trust a designer who has worked on some pretty innovative things in the automotive industry. Designer Frank Stephenson, who has created cars like the McLaren P1, Ferrari F430, and Maserati MC12 among others, has come up with BabyArk. They are saying that this is the world’s safest and most innovative baby car seat as it is made of materials used by defense contractors and also uses advanced technology to make sure that the seat itself and the babies using it will be safe while traveling.
The frame of the BabyArk is made from carbon fiber and the base has energy-absorbing steel coils. The material will be able to slow down the forward momentum in case the car suddenly breaks or gets into an accident. Meanwhile, the headrest uses anti-shock polymer D30 while the side-impact protection that the seat provides is based on the woodpecker’s plate-like hyoid bones. In the testing process, the prototype went through more than 200 crash tests to make sure it is indeed safe and sturdy. The seat will be able to fit in kids up to 49 inches and between 4 and 65 pounds.
Another thing that makes this baby car seat unique is that it uses advanced technology alongside the “cutting-edge” materials. There are 14 sensors that can measure things like accelerometers and gyroscopes. It also tells you if the seat is not properly installed through the smartphone app. The BabyArk will be available by the end of May but you can already pre-order it for $990, a price that will probably be worth it if it keeps the babies and kids safe.
In some of the futuristic tv shows or movies that we watch, we see things that seem small but contain multitudes inside or that are actually big when unpacked. We’ve come to the point though that these are not just sci-fi things but actual, real-life products or at least prototypes. We’ve seen some literal pop-up things that can easily be packed, transported, and then unpacked and constructed, solving some problems we may have when it comes to portability and assembly.
Maawa X is a waterproof and solar-powered pop-up housing solution that can be used for emergency or refugee situations or even for homeless camps that need sturdier housing. While it is still patent-pending, it is a very innovative kind of house that can fit into a suitcase when being transported and can fit 1-2 people when unfolded as it is able to expand to a 3.5 cubed meters house. You don’t even need tools or complicated kinds of assembly lines when putting it up as they say it’s basically like assembling a box.x
The entire house is constructed from cardboard but it is integrated with solar panels so it can protect you from weather conditions (although extreme weather may be too much of course) and give you power as well. It weighs only 13.7 kg so it can be transported through a suitcase to anywhere in the world where it is needed. It is also more eco-friendly than the plastic tents that are used in most settlement camps. The material is recyclable and biodegradable and can be re-used or turned into something else after it has been used.
The Maawa X also has a digital infrastructure so that the organizations can keep track of the units across various sites where they will use it. They are hoping that these eco-friendly shelters will be a solution for millions of people worldwide who may be in need of temporary housing. Hopefully these emergency shelters are sturdy enough to keep the people inside them safe and secure in the short time that they are in need of them.
Visual impairments should not stop people from pursuing hobbies that they may have previously enjoyed or have continuously done. Unfortunately, not all products that they use have features that may be helpful to them. Photography is a very visual medium of course but is not always that friendly to those who may be suffering from some form of visual impairment. So for a company to go out of their usual way and create something that people can use regardless of their visual status is always welcome.
Designer: Sony and Retissa
Sony has teamed up with Retissa, a company that has designed technology to aid people with low vision, to come up with a camera kit specifically for those who have visual impairments. The Sony DSC-HX99 RNV is made up of the HX99 compact camera and something called a QD Laser Retissa Neoviewer. The latter is a viewfinder that is able to project a digital image directly onto the retina of the user through laser retinal projection. A “crystal-clear image” is projected through a low-power, full-color laser beam.
In other words, the user’s retina becomes the screen so even if you have low vision, you’ll be able to see things clearly through the lens even if you don’t have any corrective lens or eyewear. You also don’t have to look at it through an LCD display or a virtual screen to be able to see the image you’re taking a picture of since this technology is able to deliver light directly to the eyes. The camera itself is Sony’s Cyber-shot travel zoom camera with a 24-720mm equivalent 30x zoom lens paired with an 18.2-megapixel 1/2.3-inch image sensor. It is able to record videos in 4K/30p, and also has Eye AF with fast autofocus feature.
This technology that they are using for cameras for the first time will be pretty useful for those with low vision who would still like to pursue photography. Sony is planning to collaborate with schools for the blind in the U.S and Japan and they are even offering the kit for just $600, taking on some of the costs.
Ever since the pandemic (or maybe even before that), people are more conscious now about the way they travel and commute and are looking for more sustainable ways to move around. We’re seeing more people going to school or work with bicycles, electric bikes, e-scooters, and other electric vehicles. Sometimes though, if you’re going a bit far, you’ll have to stop and recharge some of these electric vehicles. So the ideal situation would be to have something that’s earth-friendly, that has good battery life, and is portable.
Designer: Petre Georgescu
Previously, Petre Georgescu was able to develop the lightest foldable bicycle available right now. This time around, he came up with an electric bike that can reach the farthest on a single charge. The Colibri M22 is a foldable electric moped that can get you as far as 200km without having to recharge. Once you’ve finished your commute, you can fold it and store it somewhere like under stairways or in a storage area because it has compact mechanisms that allows it to be folded in a smaller manner.
The Colibri M22 weighs in at just 30 kilograms if you remove the batteries. But of course you need to put it in to be able to travel up to 200km on a full charge. You’ll be able to ride at a maximum speed of 50 km/hour. If you put it on its off-road mode, you can ride it at 90 kph when you’re traveling through forests and mountains. The electric moped can be driven legally on roads with a category B license. The three modular batteries can be charged individually as well.
In terms of design, it looks pretty much a regular, small motorbike, except you have these three huge batteries in a container in front of you. But of course that’s a small price to pay to have an e-vehicle that can get you farther than the regular e-bikes that are currently in the market. It’s now available for pre-sale in the US and Europe through crowdfunding on their website with prices starting at $2,799.